PSI is a well-intentioned program but lacks efficiency

Illustration by Miceal Munroe-Allsup

By Can Altunkaynak

Every student that comes to Lewis & Clark goes through the Pioneer Success Institute (PSI). The program’s objective is to provide students with necessary skills in life and in college through a six week long course. According to LC’s website, PSI aims to “engage students with Lewis & Clark culture and help them build the network of friends, colleagues, and support staff instrumental to their success as scholars and members of our community.” However, students and organizers have various opinions about how the program is run.

“I think that PSI had a lot of pros — the overall objective is to help students!” Student Director of New Student Orientation (NSO) Franchesca Spann ’20 said via email. “I think they give a lot of crucial information. The cons are that it is at hours that aren’t the best for students and that some of the tasks might seem repetitive if the student has already learned about the topic in high school, with family, or on their own.” Even though most students acknowledge similar pros and cons, their attitude towards PSI is different.

“The fact that they are trying to engage new students not just in the first week you come here, but throughout the first semester is a good idea,” Ruth Makonnen ’22 said. In fact, it is crucial for students to know what is available to them on campus to make the most out of their college experience. The problem, however, is not with the content but with the efficiency of the program.

Isabella Blair ’22 said that there are a few bits and pieces of information in every class but that it takes a very short time and that the rest of the class is oversimplified.

“It feels like exercises made for younger children and they are trying to talk about serious issues but it is in a very simplistic way,” Blair said. “It feels like a waste of time and that is why everyone complains about it.” Spann and Makonnen also suggested that shortening the PSI sessions would make it better.

The awkward silence is another thing students complain   about in PSI.

“Maybe it is just my class specifically where they ask questions and then there is just an awkward silence and one person will answer and then there is more awkward silence,” Blair said. “That also makes me feel like it is a waste of time because we spend so much time awkwardly sitting there waiting for something to happen.”

Makonnen expressed similar sentiments and noted that some of the interaction in class felt forced rather than natural.

“I just think that the structure can be more diverse, as in more variety in what you are doing,” Makonnen said. “They should consult students more to what kind of material is more important.”

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